In such a connected world, there is a lot of value and importance placed in disconnecting from everything for a short while. But do we really do it that much? In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I disconnect from the grid for a few days.
I’ve alluded to Seth Godin’s The Marketing Seminar a few times in recent blog posts and podcasts/vlogs. In this episode I discuss the online seminar in more detail – without giving away much at all. It’s a great course, and I highly recommend it. Check the below for some bonus Seth Godin material.
What does it take to be sustainable in regards to your tradeshow marketing program? Regarding your tradeshow exhibit booth? In today’s episode of the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, I chat with Tom Beard, National Sales Manager of Eco-Systems Sustainable Displays:
I’ve had a lot of bosses over the years and have learned things from them. Sometimes because they were good bosses, sometimes because they were bad. But bosses are good people to learn lessons from, one way or the other.
The first boss I had was in a little radio station in a small town in Oregon. He was a diehard Baptist and I think that colored his approach to things (not to say Baptists are bad, just using his religion to show where it came from in him). He thought every other song on the air we played on the top 40 station was about picking up girls and having sex with them. Okay, I thought that was a little weird, but when he said it time after time, I realized he was a little obsessed.
He was also rather high-strung besides being focused on songs being about guys picking up girls. There was the time he rushed into the station all aflutter and demanded that I stop the record so he could go on the air and deliver an urgent news report. I waited until the record was over, turned on his microphone in the newsroom and put him on the air. His urgent report? He’d seen an accident where someone ran a stop sign and hit another car going through the intersection. Which was basically a side street in a residential area. So it wasn’t really affecting anyone except the people in the cars, and it was a minor crash anyway.
My takeaway and the lesson I learned? If you’re a boss, being high-strung is not a good way to operate. Unless you like to inject fear into your employees. To me, that’s never been much of a motivator.
A number of radio Program Directors I either worked for, or
heard about from fellow DJs, approached dealing with their subordinates by
yelling at them. Putting the fear into them. “STOP DOING IT THAT WAY! DO IT
THIS WAY!” And so on. Again, not a good motivator. It made you fear the next
time you were on the air, knowing he’d be listening and ready to nitpick you to
Another boss I had years later in radio – the best boss I ever had in radio – taught me a lot about how to communicate with employees. His name was Carl, and as Program Director, he was my direct boss. When it came time for an “aircheck” session in which we’d listen to telescoped recordings of my on-air presentation, he approached it completely differently than anyone I’d worked for before. We’d listen for a few moments as he made notes, at which point he said something like “That was good, this was good, and I’d like you to work on this, this and this.” This critique was delivered pleasantly and with encouragement. And you frankly couldn’t wait until you got behind the microphone again. No pressure, just build you up while you work on things that he requested.
Another boss I worked for in radio was the station owner in
a mid-size town. He respected all employees as professionals, so there was very
little he said about our on-air work. But I do remember a few things he said.
“When you have good news, bring it to me immediately. I like
to celebrate good news. When you have bad news, get it to me even quicker. I
want to be able to know it, understand it and deal with it as quickly as
possible.” Makes sense to me.
In dealing with clients or partners, he’d always try to get
the last dollar from them in any negotiation. He told me he wanted “to see how
much money was left on the table.” Another good lesson.
Finally, the last “real” boss I had was Ed at Interpretive Exhibits, the first and only boss I had outside of radio. Since Ed, the only bosses I have are clients. And generally, they’re all great to work for and with.
Ed did a number of things that were important. He showed me the
spreadsheets on how he estimated monthly, quarterly and yearly earnings, a
format I still use today (he retired and closed the business in 2011 which led
me to start TradeshowGuy Exhibits). He also spent a lot of time explaining how
things worked in the industry. In particular he walked me through, dozens of
times, how he created estimates for big exhibit jobs. He’d break it down step
by step, figure out the reasonable time it took to do something, and added
about 50%. Why? Because in his experience, he saw that the original estimate
was almost always low. Which meant that even experience shop managers didn’t accurately
calculate the amount of time it takes to do something. Even down to how many
steps and how much time it took to offload something from a truck using a
forklift. Armed with that info, I’d occasionally clock the time and the steps
it took, and he was right: the shop guys almost always underestimated how much
time it took.
And time is money, so if you’re estimating time (labor), you’d
better be right, or as close to right as possible.
You can learn lots from bosses: what to do, and what not to
do. Some are good role models, others not so much. Take away what you can from
For this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee podcast-slash-vlog, I thought it’d be fun to chat with a longtime radio broadcaster that I’ve crossed paths with a few times during my radio career. Dave Scott started in radio about the same time I did – the mid-70s – and has tales to tell. So that’s fun.
But one of the reasons I wanted to talk to him was to get more information about his new podcast, Embrace the Change, which you dan find at his website, DaveScottNow.com.
Natural Products Expo West is in the books for another year. About 85,000 attendees, 3,600+ exhibitors made for a crazy, chaotic and ultimately fun week in Anaheim. From the Airbnb in Santa Ana where I caught a little down time between long and busy days to the early morning free breakfast and the after-show Oregon party at McCormick and Schmick’s, it was a helluva week. Take a look:
This year, our company TradeshowGuy Exhibits, had a great showing at Natural Products Expo West. In fact, our best ever, as we introduced three new clients and five new projects. Let’s take a look:
Schmidt’s Naturals has been a client for a few years, but this year they stepped up from a 10×20 custom exhibit to a brand new 10×40 custom exhibit. The brand, which was purchased in late 2017 by Unilever, has seen fast growth for an expanding product line that was created basically out of a Portland garage a decade ago.
The new 10×40 custom booth features backlit panels from side to side, a generous closet and a pair of LED-highlighted display podiums with storage. The design is clean with lots of white space, and is set off by colorful iconic custom flooring.
Wildbrine’s designer worked with our designer to come up with a clean and colorful 10×20 design that featured a bright green design for the flooring, and bright colors for the back wall and side return walls. There is an inset shelving unit in the closet, lit by white LEDs and a set of RGB custom-controlled lights.
Another custom 10×20, this one highlighted by a large mounted monitor, a big lightbox and a custom product display. Two similar counters for drink machines and literature and an LED-highlighted round charging table topped it off, along with a white oak printed rollable vinyl floor.
Hop Tea, out of Boulder, Colorado, is a company founded last May! They found us online and we partnered with Salem’s TimbrandMoss to create a custom reclaimed barnwood back wall and counters to serve their brewed tea through kegerators. The back wall accommodated a rented refrigerator. The front counter was highlighted by a burnt-in logo. We also created a cut-out vinyl-wrapped 3D version of thei rlogo to hang from the back wall. Their product won a Nexty award for Best New Ready-to-Drink Beverage. And their exhibit went over really well in the Hilton Hot New Products hall!
I go back over a decade with Hyland’s. The company I worked for back in 2005, Interpretive Exhibits (since closed due to retirement), designed and built a unique koa wood 10×20 exhibit. They’ve used it ever since – except for this year. They wanted a brighter, simpler approach, and we helped put together a large 8′ x 20′ single-photo pop-up back wall. Striking!
Graphic Updates: Bob’s Red Mill, Wedderspoon and Dave’s Killer Bread/Alpine Valley
Long-time clients Bob’s Red Mill, Wedderspoon and Dave’s Killer Bread had us do some updates. For Bob’s Red Mill, we coordinated the creation of a 42″ touchscreen video unit in the alcove portion of their booth, along with graphic updates throughout the exhibit.
For Dave’s Killer Bread, new graphics included a stark look at second-chance employment for convicted felons on their front counter, and the addition of a video monitor which looped a short video on the issue.
For Wedderspoon Manuka Honey, some more graphic updates. All great clients to work with – and glad to have them all!
I didn’t think the halls at the Anaheim Convention Center could get busier and more crowded than the previous day here at the Natural Products Expo West, but I guess I’m wrong.
It was really busy, and my FitBit says I’m at about 23,000 steps as I write this around 8:30pm. So not only did I walk a lot, bump into a lot of people, ingest about a billion food samples, but my feet hurt like jiminy cricket. Or whatever expletive you want to insert.
The day started with a referral from a present client. This is what’s so great about having your company’s exhibits on display at such a big show. Someone will inevitably see a booth, inquire as to what company designed and built it, and voila, a connection is made. It doesn’t mean any business will come out of it, but at least, from a sales standpoint, you’re working with a warm lead. So I tracked down the other exhibitor and we had a good introductory conversation. Who knows where it will lead.
Which is how I approach the whole walking-the-show-floor bit. During a long and busy day, you end up standing in front of a booth and someone in the space will ask a question, which starts a conversation. What do you do? Where are you from? Questions lead to answers, which lead to more questions. I’ve learned to be patient, and be open. Since my natural inclination is to be mostly introverted, putting myself out there isn’t natural. It requires more focus and energy. But good things usually come from it. No expectations, no real agenda other than meeting people.
With such a big show, one must make a conscious choice to move from one hall to another, from one floor to another, from one building to another. Otherwise you just won’t see everything. And even when you do that, there’s no way in hell one person can engage with 3500 exhibitors in three or four days. Do the math: that’s about 1000 a day, and with the halls open 8 hours, that’s about 125 an hour, or one booth every 30 seconds. Ain’t gonna happen!
Since that’s the case, I spend a lot of time working to reconnect with people I’ve met in the past, so we can make a brief reacquaintance, which is always good for business. During this process, you find out changes: companies bought or sold, employees promoted or changing jobs, or leaving the company. That’s what makes the world go around: change. It’s what leads to new business. What worked a year ago may not work next year. Any business owner or salesperson should be prepared for those opportunities.
During the day I had opportunities to take photos of exhibits, exhibitors, mascots and get my photo taken. Lots got posted on social media – always fun to give a shoutout to exhibitors to make the whole thing more fun. Let me close the day with a few more photos!
Need to keep visitors at your booth a little longer to go over some business with them? Adding a charging table gives them an opportunity to stay and gives you a chance to open up a longer dialogue with them.
Admittedly, you may not want every passerby to stop and plug in. But in my experience, most people won’t stop unless they have a valid reason. And stopping in a random booth to charge your phone is not a reason (again, for most people).
And if you have a table or counter that’s not currently equipped with a charging port, it’s easy enough to add when you get the charging port kit.
Charging tables come in all shapes, sizes and heights, so it should be a simple matter to find one that fits your needs and desire. Take a look at our complete charging table collection here, and browse a few images and photos here:
Nothing quite like it. I’ve seen many done for a number of clients, and all agree they come in very handy!